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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Title:What the gospel promises us in the Lordship of Christ
Text:LD 13 QA 34 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son
 
Preached:2020
Added:2020-07-12
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 47

Psalm 147:1,2

Hymn 23

Hymn 1

Hymn 64

Scripture reading:  Titus 2

Catechism lesson:  Lord's Day 13, QA 34

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus,

I think most of our young people know the name of J. K. Rowling.  Some time ago, she got into trouble because she said something controversial.  She said there are some things only women can do, like get pregnant.  That set off a storm of controversy.  It reflects the world in which we live. 

It reminds me of George Orwell’s book 1984.  At the beginning of the book, we get introduced to the three slogans of the Party.  “Freedom is slavery” is one of them.  The Party uses the media to get the people to willingly believe lies.  By the end of the book, even Winston Smith finds himself strapped to a gurney in the Ministry of Love agreeing that 2+2=5.  It seems a lot like the way our world is becoming.  You better believe the lies, or else. 

But our problem is not only the lies out there.  We also have to face up to the lies in our own hearts.  Our hearts tell us lies as bald-faced as men can get pregnant and 2+2=5.  Our hearts tell us sin is not so bad.  The pleasure we can get from a moment of sin is worth any risk.  Our hearts tells us it’s better to enjoy the freedom we get in sin than the slavery we face in Christ.  Sin gives us freedom.  Christ gives us slavery.  Maybe we don’t think about it that explicitly, but that’s what it boils down to.  And it’s all lies. 

This afternoon I’m out to kill those lies about Christ.  I’m out to kill those lies in me and in you.  I have one purpose this afternoon:  it’s to help us all see again that when we say “Jesus is Lord,” that’s good news.  The theme for the sermon:  What the gospel promises us in the Lordship of Christ.

We’ll learn about how we’re promised:

  1. Ransom from all our sins
  2. Freedom from all the power of the devil

The biblical word ‘Lord’ simply means master or owner.  When we confess that Jesus is our Lord, we mean that he is the one who has rights over us.  We mean that he is the one who possesses us.  This notion is in the Heidelberg Catechism right from the beginning.  If you remember Lord’s Day 1, “I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.”  You could also say, “Jesus is my Lord and Saviour.”

When we turn to the Bible, we find that the notion of Lordship is first found in the Old Testament.  For instance, we saw it in what we sang from Psalm 147.  In the Old Testament, God is Lord, God is master/owner.  God is the one who has rights to his people.  God is the one who possesses them.  That Old Testament notion of God as Lord transfers over into the New Testament with Jesus Christ.  Since he is God, the second person of the Trinity, he too is Lord.  We are his. 

That leads to the question:  how did we become his?  Ransom is part of the biblical answer.  Back in the 1960s, the Sydney Opera House was under construction.  The costs were getting out of control and they needed to raise money so that construction could finish.  They decided to run a lottery.  Bazil and Freda Thorne won.  They won the equivalent of about $3 million in today’s dollars.  Their names were in the news, of course.  Shortly afterwards, their son Graeme was kidnapped.  The kidnapper demanded a 25,000 pound ransom or the boy would die.  Sadly, the whole thing went pear-shaped and Graeme Throne was murdered.  When we hear the word “ransom,” that’s the kind of thing we think of, isn’t it? 

Now in the Bible, the idea of ransom does contain the thought that someone is being held captive and a payment needs to be made to set them free.  You can already see this in the Old Testament.  The Old Testament speaks of ransom.  The prophets (like Jeremiah) speak of God ransoming his people.  They’re being held captive, and he’s going to make the payment to secure their freedom. 

Jesus fulfills this in the New Testament.  There are several places which speak of it, but our Catechism paraphrases 1 Peter 1:18-19.  That passage says, “…knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”  These verses help us answer several questions about the ransom. 

For example, what are we ransomed from?  We’re ransomed from the “futile ways” inherited from our forefathers.  We’re ransomed from purposeless, vain, useless ways of life.  Think of how many people live for pleasure.  Think of how many people live for Friday when they can knock off work, go party and get drunk all Friday night, and don’t have to worry about work on Saturday morning.  That’s a futile way of life.  That’s how Peter describes it, but the Catechism simply describes it as being ransomed “from all our sins.” 

How are we ransomed?  According to what Scripture says here in 1 Peter 1:19, it was with the precious blood of Christ.  Because it is the blood of the Son of God, it’s precious.  In fact, it has infinite value.  The cross is of infinite value.  This is where the payment was made by Jesus to secure our freedom.

To what extent are we ransomed?  First Corinthians 6 speaks about that.  It reminds us that the price was paid not only for our souls, but also for our bodies.  Our bodies too have been bought with the price of the precious blood of Christ.  So the Catechism is right when it says the ransom covers “body and soul.” 

To whom is the ransom paid?  In the story of the kidnapping for ransom involving Graeme Thorne in 1960, the ransom was supposed to be paid to the kidnapper.  So, in the Bible, who is the ransom paid to?  Who’s the kidnapper, so to speak?  The Bible doesn’t say.  It leaves that question unanswered.  The biblical focus is on the fact that someone is in captivity and a great price has to be paid to set them free.  The focus is on the price – the precious blood of Christ.  Now if we were work this out theologically from what we know in the Bible, Christ’s blood and his sacrifice on the cross are directed towards God.  Specifically, it’s a payment to satisfy God’s justice.

Finally, when it comes to our ransom, what’s the result?  If the ransom has been paid, what happens?  Two important things.  These two important things are a huge comfort and joy for every Christian. 

The first is true freedom.  We’re set free from the threat of eternal death.  We’re set free from the condemnation our sins rightly deserve.  All of that is lifted from our shoulders.  The ransom is paid and we’re free from the disaster that had been looming over us. 

The second is that you’re now Christ’s possession.  He owns you.  That’s a good thing for two reasons.  It’s good because he’s good – 100% good.  It’s good to be his possession because he’s loving.  He loves you and he’ll look out for your best interests.  He’ll intercede for you in heaven.  He’ll send his angels to guard and protect you – a good Lord wants to protect what’s his.

So with Christ as Lord, the gospel promises us ransom from all our sins.  It also promises us freedom from all the power of the devil.

The Bible teaches us that if you don’t belong to Christ, you’re under the power of Satan.  The devil has you in his grip.  You’re under the control of the evil one.  But why would that be a bad thing?  Maybe it’s obvious, but there are people who think that being under Satan’s power is not bad.  So it’s good to spell it out. 

It’s bad to be under Satan’s power because it’s a terrible thing right now.  Here’s the truth:  Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life.  Think of 1 Peter 5:8, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  Why does he do that?  Because he hates you.  He hates everyone.  There is not an ounce of love in Satan for anyone else other than Satan.  He hates everyone and he has terrible plans to ruin you.  This is true even at this very moment.  Right now, Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life.  So, why would you want to be under his power?

Being under Satan’s power is also bad because of what it holds for the future.  According to the Bible in Revelation 20-21, Satan is destined for the lake of sulfur and fire.  He will spend eternity locked up in torment.  The Bible teaches that those under his power are going to share his destiny.  Anyone under Satan’s power is going where he’s going.  Why would you want that in your future?

But that’s exactly what’s happening with so many people around us.  If you ask them, they’ll deny it.  If you ask them, they’ll tell you they’re free.  They believe they’re not under the power of Satan or anyone else.  The Bible tells us different.  Second Corinthians 4:4 speaks of how the god of this world, Satan, has blinded the minds of unbelievers.  That’s what Satan does.  He deceives and blinds people, so they don’t even know what’s happening to them. 

Satan has been doing this from the beginning.  He did it in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.  After Satan instigated their fall into sin, God came to them with the promise.  God promised in Genesis 3:15 that the seed of the woman would smash the skull of the serpent.  Satan’s power over God’s people would be demolished.  Christ came to fulfill that promise of Genesis 3:15.  He came to smash the skull of Satan.  As part of that, he’s freed us from the power of Satan. 

When did Christ do this work of freeing us from Satan’s power?  Our reading from Titus 2 tells us.  Titus 2:14 says that Jesus “gave himself to redeem us from all lawlessness.”  All lawlessness, it says.  What is Satan if he isn’t lawless?  We’re redeemed from his power too.  And when did Christ do that?  When he gave himself.  This is speaking about the cross.  The cross is our freedom from the power of Satan.  The cross is where Christ delivered the death blow to the serpent.

Most people have some fear of snakes.  If you were to kill a dangerous snake, how would you do it?  You have to go for the head.  You have to try to smash its skull.  When its head is smashed or chopped off, then you’re not afraid of it anymore.  It can’t hurt you.  That’s what Christ has done for us at the cross with Satan. 

Why did he do all this?  Why did he set us free from Satan’s power?  Out of his love for us.  The Father in his love chose us before the beginning of creation.  The Father in his love gave us to the Son so that he would go to the cross for us.  The Son loved us to death.  This love of our Saviour is glorious because it’s uncompelled.  Remember, God didn’t fall in love with us.  He loves us simply because he chooses to.  Because of that glorious love, we’re free. 

To what extent are we free?  Note how the Catechism summarizes Scripture:  free from ALL the power of the devil.  That reminds us that a true Christian can never be demon-possessed.  A true Christian can never be possessed by Satan.  We belong to Christ, so how could we also belong to a demon or to Satan?  It’s impossible.  However, as we look at the life of Christ in the Bible, we know that Satan oppressed and attacked him.  If Satan attacked and oppressed our Lord Jesus, certainly he is going to try with us too.  Ephesians 6:10ff. is the classic passage about spiritual warfare.  It’s clear in Ephesians 6 that this warfare involves Satan oppressing and attacking us.  It’s going to happen.  However, as we put on the Christian’s armour, Satan’s power is defeated:  the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. 

I wonder how often we think about the reality of angels and demons.  Or the reality of Satan.  We can’t see them, so it’s challenging to remember they’re real.  That works to Satan’s advantage.  If you think he’s not real, your guard will be down and you’ll be vulnerable.  But the Bible says he’s real and he’s really dangerous. 

The Bible also says Christ is real.  The cross is real.  Christ really died on that cross to set us free from this dangerous enemy Satan.  He died to make us his own possession, so we would look up to him as our Lord. 

Loved ones, belonging to Christ is far better than belonging to the power of Satan. Why?  Because right now, if he’s your Lord and Saviour, Christ loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.  He’s proven his love at the cross and he continues to prove it by interceding for you each day.  And later on, you’re going to see how belonging to Christ is better when you join him in the new creation.  You’ll enter the joy of your master.  You’ll experience his lovingkindness into eternity.  Christ is better.  He’s better than Satan, he’s better than sin.

So brothers and sisters, see Jesus Christ as Lord and embrace him as your Lord.  After all, he’s good.  He’s good in himself and he’s good for you.  And when you see his goodness and understand it, then you want to serve him from your heart.

Joel Beeke tells the story of a wealthy Englishman stopping over in New Orleans on his way back home.  This is back in the 1800s.  The slave trade was still on.  This man went to the slave market to have a look.  He noticed a beautiful young woman up for sale.  Two men were bidding for her, speaking crudely about what they’d do to her if they got her.  The Englishman started bidding.  He right away bid more than twice what the others were.  She became his.  As he took her, she spit in his face.  He led her away from the slave market to an office on the other side of town.  He paid some money and filled out some forms.  The Englishman then turned to her and said, “You’re free.”  Again, she spit in his face.  He said, “Don’t you understand?  I just bought you and set you free!”  She stared at him for a few moments.  She couldn’t believe it.  Then it finally dawned on her and she started weeping at his feet.  Finally, she looked up at him and said, “Sir, is it really true that you paid more than anyone has ever paid to purchase me as a slave, only to set me free?”  He looked her in the eye and said, “Yes.”  She wept more at his feet.  She then looked up at him and said, “Sir, I have only one request.  Can I be your slave forever?” 

You see, Christ our Lord has set us free from our slavery to sin and the devil.  As we realize the magnitude of what he’s done, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes and he makes us become the willing servants of our Lord forever.  Serving him becomes our joy and delight.  AMEN.

PRAYER

Our Lord Jesus,

Thank you for paying the ransom for us.  You shed your precious blood on the cross for us, to make the payment we couldn’t – and we adore you for that.  We’re grateful that you ransomed us from the futile way of life inherited from our forefathers.  Lord, we also thank you that you’ve given us freedom from all the power of the devil.  You smashed the skull of Satan at Golgotha – and we worship you for that great victory.  Lord Jesus, we’re now your possession.  And we're glad that nothing could be better than belonging to you.  With you, we have comfort now and hope for the future.  You are a good Lord, a loving Master.  Please let us be your servants forever.  Work with your Holy Spirit in our hearts so that we know the joy and delight of serving you as our Lord always.         

 

           

 

                        




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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